July 31, 2023
Over 300,000 people currently work as teachers in Australia, about a half/half split between Primary and Secondary schooling levels, with over 70% being female. When I began the career way back in 1978, I quickly realised that very little of what I thought I knew about teaching and what was shared with me at university was correct or useful. Educational theories and history and pedagogical practices and curriculum maps and technologies certainly provided a little of the necessary knowledge and skills teachers need, but the reality gap between academia and day-to-day workplaces was – and still is – huge.
By my fifth year of teaching, I was mapping a potential guide for people who were contemplating teaching as a career or were in the early years wondering what just happened. I began collecting comments and observations made by colleagues and storing them – conversations on yard duties, behaviour management, administrative paperwork, reliefs, union membership, and so on. The comments I collected are like:
“I was born branded as a teacher. Mum is a Principal. Dad teaches Tech. My grandmothers on both sides were teachers, and my father’s father worked as an accountant for an education company. I’ve never known a world outside teaching. We’re a bit like professional military families – actually, a lot like them.” (AK, Economics Teacher, 12th year in profession)
“Every morning, I coach myself to be positive when I walk into the school grounds. I smile, I greet people, I exude positivity because I know the impact it has on everyone else.” (JN, Year 5 teacher, 4th year in profession)
“If I have to do one more session on Mandatory Notification I will scream. I get it. I know what to do after four sessions. Really. Stop wasting my time. The sessions are so boring.” (CB, Food Technologies teacher, 22nd year in profession)
“I learned a lot of tech stuff during uni, but I was surprised at how many of my colleagues still struggle with tech at work. It’s embarrassing. I’m helping people with basic stuff and the kids know it.” (FS, Middle School teacher, 7th year in profession)
This year, as a side-task to other writing projects, I’ve finally pulled together a full draft of the teacher guide, and it currently sits around 42,000 words. I’m allowing myself a target of 50,000 words – long enough to cover quite a few topics; short enough to be readable. I’d like to make it a relaxed reading, one that non-teachers can read to understand the demands and joys of the profession. It doesn’t include leadership – it really is aimed at classroom teaching as a profession. Neither does it cover what courses generally cover: pedagogies, behaviour management practices, curriculum design, professional growth. If anything, for would-be teachers it’s a warts-and-all view.
I am wrestling with the method for the teacher observations. I want to provide anonymity for the hundreds of colleagues whose comments I’ve curated and anonymity for myself because some observations may not be what those colleagues want appearing in print, but I do want to give a sense of the commentators’ experience, so in the draft I’ve used fake initials, but actual experience in level of school and years in the profession. I know this won’t suit academic rigor or standards and it’s not meant to – the purpose is to share real comments in the context of the topic: nothing more. I have nothing I want to prove as irrefutable evidence.
And that brings me to developing the overall tone again – a conversation in essence. The current working title is a wee derivative – We Need To Talk About Teaching – but it I want a title that sets the tone from the outset: that chat we should have about the profession that makes it clearer to you what you really need to have to be successful and happy being a teacher. I’ll continue to explore possible titles as the draft is shared with beta-reader colleagues.
July 24, 2023
Today and tomorrow I will sift through potential publishers of historical fiction who might be interested in this tale. At the same time, I have to pull together:
Okay, I’ve done this in the past, and there’s plenty of current examples and guides online to help out, but, frankly, I’m terrified. But it has to be done.
My other next challenge is to find an agent or agency willing to take me on. I started this whole career without an agent way back in 1990, when it was still possible to approach the major publishers without an agent in Australia, and I continued solo until 2000. Those who know me also know that Robert Stephenson acted as my agent from 2000-2012 while I was writing during that period. Unfortunately, Robert’s passing late 2019 put paid to our plans to revive the business relationship. Finding the right agent for my new work will be interesting.
Over the weekend, several friends and acquaintances asked how I am travelling in the role of full time writer. The answer is simple: loving it.
Oh, must put the washing on the line.
July 3, 2023
Three projects are looking for publishers…
Historical Romance Fiction novel: 126,000 words
Status – writing finished
After completing the edit of this novel in January, Wakefield Press had a look but, despite very positive feedback on the writing and research, aren’t convinced it’s a saleable product for them. I’m now researching/deciding to whom next to send the proposal.
The Last Wizard series – Tamesan’s Song, Chasse’s Song, Jaysin’s Song, Harmi’s Song
Fantasy novels: approx. 400,000 words
Status – writing finished
Completed in June, the series is four novels totalling around 400,000 words. A proposal is currently sitting with HarperCollins Voyager. Fingers crossed.
In My Father’s Shadow
Young Adult novel: 61,000 words
Status – writing finished
The proposal and manuscript are currently with Wakefield Press for consideration. Fingers crossed again.
Three projects are currently occupying my writing regime…
The Clan Chronicles – Storm, War, Resolution (working titles)
Fantasy novels: target length approx. 360,000 words
The draft of Storm is completed, and I am halfway through a draft of War. Lots to do here. I’m hoping to have the draft of War completed before December.
All We Have
Apocalyptic Science Fiction: currently 114,000 words
Status – undergoing significant edit/rewrite
Originally completed in 2020, this project is now about to undergo a radical edit/rewrite in light of the COVID experiences and additional research I’ve made that changes aspects of the ‘science’ and culture of the story. I am contemplating working with an artist to add internal illustrations on behalf of the ‘narrator’ of the diary entries. I’d really like to complete this project and be sending out proposal before the end of this year. I have marked it as a potential self-publish project…
We Need to Talk About Teaching (draft working title)
Practical Guide: target length 45,000 words:
Status – rough and incomplete draft
This is in very rough draft phase and incomplete, although I’ve already drafted 25000 words of content. This project is targeted for completion by September.
Additional random creative activities…
Poetry anthology – no title yet; very rough draft
Apart from the major projects listed above, and I’m crafting poems for a personal anthology I hope will be done by December – some are ‘old’ poems I wrote, some new ones from this year. This project will definitely be self-published.
Role Play Game Scenarios: currently 50,000 words
Status – scenarios developing
As a former D&D DM and player for many years, I’m designing my variation on a fantasy role-play game, complete with mechanics and guides. I’m hoping to start a fortnightly or monthly game with six volunteer players in August.
50,000 words so far
Status – weekly, sometimes fortnightly
That’s where I am at with this foray into full time writing. Lots finished, lots in process, lots of additional projects sitting in the wings to develop further, and no sales or publications yet. But it’s underway and productive and fun.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...